The people of remote Kisamoter Char in Teesta River basin area in Dimla upazila under the district are happy to have a spacious earthen 'killa' to take shelter for saving life and property during devastating floods, thanks to the initiative of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
Locals use the word 'killa' to indicate a safe place made with earth and sand, which is higher than usual floodwater level and provides shelter for people in time of flood.
During the rainy season, Indian authorities open all the gates of its Gozaldoba barrage in the upstream of the Teesta River and heavy onrush of water hits Kisamoter Char in Khaga Kharibari union of Dimla upazila, causing serious floods that wash away houses, properties and cattle and make people run for safe shelter.
In absence of any safe place, not even a school building, people take shelter on roofs of houses or on floating rafts and live there for days, even weeks, said locals.
To mitigate their sufferings, concerned union parishad (UP) and upazila administration submitted a proposal to the UNDP office in Dhaka, seeking assistance for making sustainable remedy for flood victims, said sources at Dimla upazila administration.
Under its Compressive Disaster Management Programme in 2013-2014 fiscal year, UNDP approved the proposal for building a killa and a connecting road and renovation of two flood protection earthen embankments in the same union at a cost of Tk 74 lakh.
The three-month-long work for construction of the 290-feet-long, 190-feet-wide and 6.5-feet high killa was completed under the monitoring of UNDP officials last month.
A large pond dug nearby to manage earth for the purpose can now be used for fish cultivation, said upazila officials.
“Floods visit our area every year. We now feel safer as the killa has been made in our char,” said Abdul Motin Manik, 60, an inhabitant of Kisamoter Char.
All the 220 families of the char can take shelter with their belongings at the killa, said Khoga Khoribari UP Chairman Rabiul Islam Lithon, also president of the project committee.